White Island (Whakaari) is the perfect example of an active volcano. It breathes, it roars and it hisses from steaming vents releasing 800°C toxic gases. Situated off the coast of Whakatane, it has had around 35 small to moderate eruptions since 1826. The Maori name for the island is 'Te Puia o Whakaari', which means 'the dramatic volcano'. Although it's privately owned, White Island is a scenic reserve that can be visited by launch or helicopter. From Whakatane, Rotorua and Tauranga you can arrange a walking tour of the island, which leads right into the huge main crater. Hard hats and gas masks are provided for the tour - it's an extraordinary experience.